By William Christy
Christy, a WPU senior, blogs about wheelchair basketball at https://rolltowin.wordpress.com.
Those who know me well know that I love two things: basketball and English. I love the unique form of teamwork that basketball offers to each and every player. Regarding English, I enjoy how an individual can give his or her opinion on various literary works.
Yet, if I ever compared the two activities together, most people — even my audience who devoutly read this blog — would label me as utterly insane.
[pullquote speaker=”” photo=”” align=”center” background=”off” border=”none” shadow=”off”]Well, call me crazy because, as implausible as it sounds, playing basketball is like writing a paper.[/pullquote]
Now, before any of you send me to an asylum, hear me out:
When comparing basketball to writing an English essay, one must understand most of the grounds for comparison is based on symbolism. For instance, the game of basketball cannot begin without the ball.
So, too, an essay cannot begin without a solid thesis. In other words, the ball is the thesis of the game. It is the center of the sport. Without it, the game has no purpose.
Video: Watch Christy discuss ball handling in wheelchair basketball.
But the comparison does not stop there. Every basketball team has a starting five. The starting five for a typical, five-paragraph paper is an introduction, three main argumentative points, and a conclusion.
However, the best essays, like the best basketball teams, are the ones with the most support and backup. For essays, having multiple and credible sources further validates an individual’s argument.
In basketball, the team that has the deepest bench to support the starting five will, more often than not, win the game and, quite possibly the title.
For example, according to the website of the National Basketball Association (NBA), the current NBA Champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers, have fourteen players on their roster. Of the fourteen athletes on the squad, at least ten or twelve of them are a vital part of the team’s success.
Now that we have covered the symbolic aspect of the two activities, we must look into both playing basketball and writing a paper from a philosophical point of view.
Both the basketball player (and team) and essay writer have one common goal: to prove that they are the best. In order to prove themselves, both have to take risks, develop various strategies, and have an extreme devotion to the craft.
Some of the best teams in basketball like to throw fancy passes and alley-oops — even if some of them result in turnovers. But, the fact that the team took the risk in throwing a creative pass illustrates how the team has skill.
When writing an essay, students are asked to take an intellectual risk. This statement means that they must deviate from what other scholars have written about a topic and advance the discussion by developing their own unique argument because that is where interesting and intelligent writing comes from.
Strategy trumps talent virtually all the time in both basketball and writing a paper. It does not matter how talented a basketball player is or how intelligent a literary critic is; if someone has a strategy on how to stop the talented basketball player or refute every argument the literary critic has, then the strategist is the better individual.
To be the best writer and basketball player, one must dedicate hours upon hours honing their skills. For instance, my shooting would not be as stellar as it is had I not, in addition with practicing with my superior teammates, practiced at my local university gym three times a week.
At the same time, my writing skills would not be as good had I not written multiple essays each semester in college and spent multiple hours with my professors on understanding the nuances of writing a literary-based argument.
The actions may be different, but that does not mean the concepts and philosophies are mutually exclusive. I am an English major and a wheelchair basketball player because I can see the two worlds living together.
I challenge you to look at your hobbies and interests and see if they overlap. More often than not, they probably do.